Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bribery and Blagojevich


I have no intention of defending him: the notion of selling a senate seat is beyond reprehensible, and there's no doubt in my mind that Blagojevich's blatant opportunism has tainted our political system.

But it's occurred to me that we teach our children a whole lot about bribery. At least, I am teaching mine.

"Don't you want to get in the stroller? Don't you want to go outside? If you don't get in the stroller, we can't go outside. Won't it be fun to go outside?" And then the inevitable: "If you get in the stroller, I'll give you a snack!" For all of my attempts to make it a healthy snack (who knew raisins could bring so much joy?) it is clearly, incontrovertibly, a bribe.

And I do it all the time.

If you get in the tub, I'll help you make bubbles! If you drink your milk we can read a story! If you finish your beans you can have an apple! (See above re: healthy snacks. Of course, the animal crackers and gogurt are starting to sneak in - and I'm a far worse culprit than hubby - but at least they still think of apples as a treat. And I haven't yet resorted to candy-as-bribe.)

Of course, at age 20 months, when logic is just beginning to emerge and is at constant war with the demands of instant gratification, there are only so many weapons we have. How can we count to three if they can't count? How many times can you use a time out before it loses its power? (And does refusing to leave the bath *really* warrant a three-minute cone of silence?) Not to mention the fact that they are only just now beginning to form memories that last longer than a nano-second.

Bribery is a pretty damn useful tool. It's almost no small wonder that it seems to come so naturally to our illustrious Illinois governor.

So how do I keep my boys from becoming expletive-spewing, pompadour-sporting, corrupt politicians who dole out favors like I pass around boxes of snack-sized dried grapes? Not to imply Rod's parents are at fault here - there's nothing like having twins to make you fully appreciate the primacy of nature over nurture. But, on the other hand, it's not like we're powerless either.

I suppose we have to make sure we change our methods when we can pull from a larger armory. We need to shift from bribes to consequences, cajoling with treats to establishing expectations.
And trust in our own ability to teach them right from wrong.

(and yes, strains of CSN&Y and Cat Stevens are running through my mind...)

3 comments:

tony d said...

I think you're just getting them ready for life.

You're bribed (paid) to do a good job at work

You're bribed (rewarded) by your spouse if you do something that pleases them.

What Blagojevich did was illegal and immoral and shouldn't be compared with what you do to survive twins (or a single kid for that matter) - When you parent - you do what you have to (Helen Donell)

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